Imagine you're looking for the buzz on a specific topic - for example, a client of mine wanted to know about how the word greenwashing was seen by the public, in order to assess its use in a fundraising campaign.
One of the approaches I took to answer her question was to count the number of articles that have the word greenwashing in them, by year. I decided to test this on two different databases -- Factiva.com and Google News Archive. I searched for the word and then limited my search by year, counted the number of articles retrieved, and put that information in an Excel spreadsheet.
Using Excel's graphing feature, I created a simple line graph showing that -- in the US business press, at least -- the use of the word greenwashing peaked 2009. Obviously, there's more to this story; this is just one way of creating insight from something as simple as search result counts.